One of the greatest love stories ever told? Maybe not, but the fictional coupling of Henry Rollins and Glenn Danzig in the comic Henry & Glenn Forever (and we were the first big media outlet to tell you about it!) has inspired more than mere fan fascination at this point. The small yet epic paperback has been such a hit, an entire art show at La Luz De Jesus Gallery has been devoted to its amorous concept, and as you can see in the photos we took on opening night this past Friday, there's not a filler piece in the bunch:
Though tribute bands Black Fag and Glenn were forced to cancel their outdoor performance due to the rain, the place was still packed. Igloo Tornado, the art collective who created the timeless tome of tough yet tender affection curated the show (they called it a “Gang Bang”). Igloo's Tom Neely answered our burning love questions the next day. Read on for his illuminating insight about the creation, reaction and inspiration behind the comic phenom and the punk rock manly man masterpieces that followed.
1. How did you come up with the idea for Henry & Glenn and did you fear their reactions?
It all started back in 2005 as a bad idea after a night of too many beers with my art fraternity, The Igloo Tornado. Gin Stevens said something like “We should do something like Tom of Finland, but with Henry Rollins and Glenn Danzig.” Soon the idea evolved into a series of one-page riffs on the idea that Henry and Glenn are roommates or “domestic partners.” Somewhere along the way Hall & Oates got thrown into the mix.
When we first self-published it as a couple of xeroxed zines with screen-printed covers, we never expected it to become such a phenomenon, so we didn't really worry about their reactions. We have gotten some reactions from them.
When we had the self-published mini-zine of the book at San Diego Comic Con in '05, Henry Rollins was doing a DVD signing at another booth. Gin Stevens took a copy of our book and asked him to sign it. Henry took a look at it and said “Has Glenn seen this? Trust me, he would not be amused.” And we couldn't resist using that as a blurb on the back of the book.
As for Glenn… About a month after Henry & Glenn Forever came out, my friend J. Bennett was interviewing Danzig for Decibel magazine. The Igloo Tornado signed and gift-wrapped a copy of our book for J. to give to Glenn. When J. tried to give it to him, he refused to even look at it and then proceeded to rant about it for a bit. J. gave me the transcript of their interaction and I made a comic strip of that called “The Final Blow.”
2. Why these two? Why not other heavy rock icons/frontmen? More aggro love connections (Lee Ving and Lemmy?) to come?
I don't know if it would work as well with anyone else. They are both such icons, and their macho attitudes, body building, and outspoken personalities gave us a lot to work with. Like chocolate and peanut butter, Henry & Glenn are a perfect combination. I've been a big fan of their music for most of my life, and that helps too. I have a lot of respect for both of their careers, but their public personas are a bit cartoonish, which makes them easy targets. But we didn't even give it that much thought in the beginning. This really was just a dumb idea scrawled on a bar napkin that turned into a monster.
3. What has been the reaction of the gay community and the punk community? The gay punk community?
I was a bit worried at first that people would misinterpret what we were doing, but thankfully it seems to have been widely embraced. One of the first people I showed the book to was San Francisco based cartoonist Ed Luce, creator of Wuvable Oaf comics series. He's a huge Misfits fan, one of my favorite contemporary cartoonists and is gay – so, I felt like if he liked it, that was a kind of test. Luckily, he loved it and became one of my biggest supporters. He is also the first person I thought of when we decided to ask other artists to do Henry & Glenn art for the show.
The punk community seems to love it, too. We've had positive reviews in Maximum Rock'n'Roll, Razorcake, Decibel, and others. I've had book orders from some of my favorite musicians like Thurston Moore, Ryan Patterson and Matt Sweeney! I even signed a copy for Rick Rubin, who produced Danzig's first album.
The only people who seem to be unhappy with the book are the humorless hardcore Danzig worshippers who can't take a joke aimed at their idol.
4. How did you come up with the idea for the artshow?
Billy Shire contacted us after he read the book and asked if we wanted to do a signing and art show. We had already done a book release party at Secret Headquarters Comic Book shop back in April, 2010, and sold all of the original art from the book. We thought it would be fun to ask other artists to join in this time. We each asked several of our friends to participate. It's a little overwhelming to see so many other artists that you admire doing artwork inspired by something you created. Clayton Brothers, Coop, Kaz, and Johnny Ryan are all artists I've looked up to for so long. And to bring in some of my favorite “underground” artists like Reuben Splatterbeast and Jose Gabriel Angeles is really exciting to me.
5. Future projects for you guys? More on the romantic adventures of Henry and Glenn planned?
We're all working on our own projects right now. I'm finishing up my second graphic novel, The Wolf, which I will be self publishing in the Spring; Levon is working on an epic fantasy adventure comic called Danger Country; and the four of us are hoping to do another art show together in the near future. As for Henry & Glenn, there's still life in these characters. Back in December I made an animated cartoon “Henry & Glenn Forever Anti-X-Mas Special,” currently up on YouTube. I'd love to do more animations with the characters, but haven't planned anything yet Hey, Adult Swim- gimme a call.